‘HAVING mummified his granny and Windsor Castle in celluloid, the surprise is that Prince Eddie wasnt asked to make the film of his brother Charless affair with Camilla.
In 30 years let’s be in a made-for-TV film together
With Charless pet begonias unwilling to talk, surely Eddie was well placed to tell us amore about the real lives of Charles and his famous mistress.
But no. Eddie never got the call to work on the film Whatever Love Means, to be screened on ITV next month.
The honour of laying Camilla and Charles down on tape went to David Blair, whose credits include the TV series Anna Karenina and the superb The Lakes.
But the shows producers should have got Eddie. Blair hasnt by any account done a bad job; hes just not done the job he thought he was being hired to do. I was subjected to a level of interference that I found unacceptable, says Blair. The film was being re-edited without me.
Eddie should have got the job. Eddies name on the credits would have gone down well with the American audience for whom this film was surely made it has been co-produced by the American cable channel Womens Entertainment.
The Americans cant get enough of all that Royal stuff. And while Britishers can see just 70 minutes of Charles and Camilla at it, the Americans have an extra 20 minutes.
But what are we and they getting? If the script is any guide, its exactly what the Americans expect – Dynasty with real titles and a real dynasty.
Take what is supposed to be the very first line Charles uttered to Camilla: Did you know the first ever game of polo was played in Hounslow in 1869?
Yes, Hounslow, the first stop on most Americans trip to London as the jumbo jet theyre arriving on hurtles into land at the London borough of Hounslows most famous landmark, Heathrow Airport. Watch out for the polo horses?
Its the stuff of fantasy. Americans raised of Styrofoam expect the British to speak with cut-glass accents. The British men are cold and the women randy and unfulfilled.
Just listen to Camilla as she gets Charles back to her flat. Youre going to find out Im a slut soon enough, she tells him.
Ever the traditionalist, Charles dutifully proposes marriage: Im fearfully fond of you but Ive no desire whatsoever to be Queen, says Camilla in a language thats a pastiche of just about every Bronte book thats ever been turned into film. Cant we just have fun?
Charles: Im not very good at fun.
Camilla: Dont worry, Im good enough for both of us.
And looking at the drippy look on Dianas face, Camilla needs to have enough fun for three.
Rather than being some princess of hearts, Diana is turned into a kind of Krystal Carrington character. Shes blonde. Shes simpering. Shes boring. And shell never be loved in the way Charles (Blake) loved Camilla (Alexis).
And shes been made that way. Says Charles: Divorce Andrew [Andrew Parker Bowles] and marry me? Camilla: Ill be branded a calculating witch. Im going to find you a wife. Someone you can mould a little.
And blessed with all the allure and worldliness of a lump of dough, is Di ever mouldable.
The gel never stood a chance. As Charles tells Camilla: ‘Youre the only woman Ive ever loved in my life, no-one could ever take your place – which is appalling luck for Diana.
And very hard cheese on Prince Eddie…’
‘SAT on the sofa between John Motty Motson and Mark Lawro Lawrenson, Tony Tony Blair was talking football on Football Focus, the BBCs pre-match Saturday afternoon sports show.
Tony relives the moment when Jackie passed for that touchdown
Lets get the serious stuff out of the way first, said Manish, the shows anchor. Michael Owen. Good signing, bad signing? Great signing, said Tony, whose Newcastle United have only recently signed the England striker.
Manish sensed nerves. You looked worried just there, didnt you, he said. Yeah, said Tony. I was worried what you were going to ask me.
Why worry? This is the BBC, and after Andrew Gilligans jinking run had fallen flat, the Corporation isnt going to take on Tony again in a hurry. They are on his side, keen to support the front man and never leave him isolated in attack.
MUTV, Manchester Uniteds in-house propaganda channel, is not the only football broadcaster playing it safe. (MUTV had pulled club captain Roy Keanes views on its Play the Pundit show for being too contentious and, in turn, too interesting for public viewing.)
Make the questions too tricky and viewers at home could find themselves suddenly watching a short film about football in the community.
The technical staff did stop short of splicing in footage of Tony playing headers with Kevin Keegan to make it look like the PM was scoring with his every touch before a packed house at a new Wembley Stadium. But things were, nonetheless, going Tonys way.
And nicely warmed up, Manish was keen to set Tony up for another shot at an open goal. Legend had it that Tony once claimed hed spent his early years watching Jackie Milburn from a seat behind the goal at Newcastle. If true, Tony would have been about four years old at the time and the only one sitting down on the all-standing terraces.
The BBC saw its chance. A BBC radio interview with Tony was duly unearthed, and we all listened in. Tony had said something about Milburn. He had mentioned being young when first seeing Newcastle. And..? And nothing. Tony had been misquoted. The captains footballing credibility was restored. Lord Hutton could put his tracksuit back on and resume his place on the bench.
But Motty didnt climb the greasy pole to footballs top gantry without being forthright. He pulled up his white socks, and fearlessly wanted to know how Tony wound down after a kick about in the Commons. Its like everything else, said Tony. If you cant stand the heat dont come into the kitchen.
Tony was talking sense. If the week had left him feeling sick as a parrot with bird flu, hed pulled himself up by his bootstraps and come out fighting. He was on top of his game.
But football is as much about talking with your feet as your mouth. And with no ball to kick, Tony was forced to do his shooting from the lip. He wanted to speak up for some of those players who dont get the plaudits they deserve. In their own way, they are incredibly good, said Tony, playing to the crowd.
Steed Malbranque was good. Tony said Fulhams French attacker was just so strong. And Arjan De Zeeuw was good. Tony liked him because he was really strong – he never gives up at all. And Teddy Sheringham, the 39-year-old West Ham striker, was also good. He was a natural. Tony liked how Teddy ran off the ball and never took his eye off it.
Talk about picking a team in your own dreamy image. Overweight middleaged men who live with their mums talk about the beautiful game Tony talks about being good, strong and never quitting.
The life of football fan is indeed a vicarious one. You live your dreams through your heroes.
And, unlike the BBCs spine of Motty, Lawro and Manish, Tony was tough and slippery in the tackle. Tony was also a great admirer of Alan Shearer a talisman for his side.
And if Tony could chose one current Premiership manager for his Cabinet? Alex Ferguson, said Tony. Because hes so tough. Even if, like Tony, it looks as if hes about to be substituted…’
‘PETER Ustinov used to speak about the time he was approached to be a spy. He met the spymaster at a Tube station. The spook took one look at Ustinov and declared that he had too memorable a face. The ideal spy is as forgettable as blancmange.
‘It was the Syrian with the suicide bomber in the library’
Being a spy is not for the vain. Do your work well and no-one other than your boss will ever notice. Do it too well and chances are youll never leave that job as a filing clerk in some unglamorous munitions factory or embassy.
The gap between what a spy does and how hes portrayed in film is huge. Especially so if you get your dose of espionage from the Spooks TV series.
But people will believe what they see. And if the actors are good looking, the work exciting and the set shiny, viewers will believe it all the more.
There is a blurring between fact and fiction. So when two female characters on the show are violently offed, women are deterred from joining MI5.
To combat this, the Security Service is advertising in She and Cosmopolitan magazines. In between articles such as Has a man ever gone ahead with sex, even though you said no? (Cosmo) and It is about that time of the year to wear white again (She), women are being seduced into the world of espionage.
We want to attract more females but the spooks programme may be having a bad effect because of the way some of the female characters have been killed off, says a spokesman for the Security Service.
And it has been grim. In series one, a female trainee had her head plunged into a vat of boiling oil and was then shot dead. In the current series, female spy Fiona Carter has been shot dead by her ex-husband.
While this is clearly material for all manner of womens magazine features (My husband is a spy; How to treat oily skin; I can only orgasm when Im shot), woman are turned off by the thought of being murdered at work.
Perhaps its a shock for them. While men have the fantasy figure of James Bond achieving the dream of every priapic teenage boy in being good at cards, driving fast cars and pulling loadsa bird – even if he is a touch prissy about his drinking – women have Miss Marple.
Agatha Christies heroine is about as undercover as they come without being in a coffin; no-one spots the invisible old duffer with the razor sharp mind. And theres Melita Norwood, exposed as the longest-serving Soviet spy in Britain in 1999 when she was 87 years old.
Far be it from us to accuse MI5 of failing to do its research, but wouldnt it be better if it advertised for recruits in some other magazines, like the Saga holiday brochure, Cross Stitch Crazy and The Pastoral Review?
Small wonder only 27 per cent of current applicants are women, as the Times says. They just arent getting the message.
Unless MI5 isnt telling us how a female spy operates. Advertising in Cosmo might just get MI5 what it wants – a Mata Hari of its own…’
‘WATCHING Channel 4s Helen of Troy on Saturday night was like reliving the moment when the moderately good looking German exchange teacher arrives at school.
‘Henry VIII had a great pair of breasts’
With the Swiss miss in charge lessons are no longer just about finding imaginative new ways to work the phrase So what did you do in the war? into your oral and written work. German is deep and interesting. The Germans have words for love and sex and romantic walks down country lanes and breasts.
Misss breasts were at it again on Saturday night. Not Herr Julias, but Bettany Hughess. Shes the history totty that will get us all fascinated in her subject.
And when talking of Helen of Troy, the legendary beauty, Bettany told us that the woman whose face had launched a thousand ships also had a terrific pair of jugs, or amphoras.
Helens cuckolded husband Menelaus would have taken back his wife only to slit her throat had she not possessed such wonderful breasts. Forget the ships – just how many mens magazines do you think a modern day Helen would have launched?
Problem was Ms Hughes. She might be a nice looking long-haired brunette, the history sections very own Nigella Lawson, but when she said breasts that was the start and end of it.
Nigella would have raised an eyebrow at the words utterance and added that the breasts were plump or even juicy. All Bettany did was say it: breasts.
That might be enough for people who spend their weekends walking along the towpath of the Grand Union canal and rubbing brass, but we TV viewers in on Saturday night wanted more.
Wed heard the word breasts before. And if you watch Rome, the BBC drama set in the dying days of the Roman Empire, you can get some full frontal male and female nudity and depictions of violent sex.
Bettany wasnt making enough effort to seduce us. Why not show us a pair of breast-shaped goblets modelled on an impression of Helens fabulous orbs, of the type Madame de Pompadour apparently drank champagne from? Why not show us some cleavage?
She looked exactly as youd imagine an expert in history to look tired trousers and jumper in sensible shades of blue.
Helen is the woman blamed for the Trojan War – a conflict that caused countless deaths – but who was the real Helen of Troy?, said the blurb on Channel 4s website.
All we found out was that this real Helen of Troy was pretty much like the fictional one notwithstanding her real or false breasts…’
‘LIKE when John F. Kennedy died and we first heard Dayvid Beckham speak, we can remember the very moment it happened. It came like a bolt from the blue: TV comeback for Edmonds.
Worse than bird flu
For reasons best known to the Mail, the story of Noel Edmondss return to our screens appeared below a story headlined: Prisoners free to practise witchcraft in their cell.
Five years after walking off, disappearing like a little hairy white dot from our screens, Edmonds is back to front a gameshow on Channel 4.
Edmonds is presenting Deal or No Deal, which features 22 contestants seated in a tank of gunge and arguing whether or not Edmonds should be given a new contract to appear on TV (Deal) or shot (No Deal).
Gotcha! As Noel was once wont to say. That was just our little joke. Noel will not be shot, but kept inside a small cage in a field just outside Lewes.
Gotcha! Wow, this really is contagious stuff. Its another joke. We just dont know when to stop which makes us a bit like Noel, who only stopped when the BBC axed his awful Noels House Party.
The actual show does not feature Mr Blobby, actual bodily harm or Bob Carolgees, but 22 contestants (that bit was true) competing for a top prize of £250,000. (Just imagine how much gunge that could buy!)
The show has already been a hit in 40 countries and should give Edmonds the return to the big time hes been waiting for.
And it is just the start. Noel could tell Channel 4s executive-types that hes could do for the broadcasters Saturday nights what he once did for the BBC.
The boys and girls with thick-rimmed spectacles and Home Counties accents will nod, and consider the merits of The 100 Best Mr Blobby Moments and The 100 Best Beards on TV ever!
They will then look kindly on Edmonds, look at the Mr Blobby suit and think the entire thing a hoot, in a post-modern and edgy sort of way.
Wouldnt it be ironic to have Edmonds doing a house party on Channel 4, theyll say. And even better if he could play house music on it.
And so long as the custard is organic and not loaded with deadly sugar and sunset orange colouring, we can have loads of that, too. Hmm, perhaps Jamie Oliver can make fresh custard on air in the kitchen of Noels house?
For now, of course, it is just a dream. One of The Top 100 TV Dreams, wed wager…’
‘WELCOME to Celebrity Ouija Board, with your host Anthea Turner.
Sweating on her comeback
Tonight we will be attempting to contact a dead celebrity. Gathered around the table are Kerry Katona, Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen, Leslie Grantham, Melinda Messenger and the man who sold Jade Goody her first kebab.
Let us join together our hands. Calling Bruno Books. Can you hear us the spirit of Nick Owen. Come in Michael Barrymore. Is anybody there?
The glass begins to move. The letters are spelt out: C.A.L.L.M.Y.A.G.E.N.T.
Celebs will do anything for fame; and it cant be too long before one of their number dies and has written on their headstone for all eternity, or until the BBC stops broadcasting repeats of Only Fools And Horses: Resting. Available for pantos, supermarket openings and reality TV shows. Will eat bugs – especially worms.
How low can you go? is the question. And, by coincidence, thats what Jordan asked when she was sat inside her hideous pink pumpkin on her merry way to marry a sweaty and terrified looking Peter Andre.
This was Jordan and Peters Marriage & Mayhem, the ITV2 show that promised to go behind the scenes at the biggest wedding of the century; the wedding of Britains most phogrpahed people.
Jordan and Pete are also Britains most quotable people, particularly Jordan, who treated us to the following exchange with the aforesaid Kerry Katona.
We saw Jordan sitting in her brides boudoir being the quintessential fairy-tale Princess. She turned to camera and told us she was shitting meself.
Katona, empathising: I know. Im shitting meself for yer.
Katona then told us she was no (number) one trick pony and was so excited at being a bridesmaid, she thought Im gonna pee.
Add to this Peters copious amounts of sweat, as he stood before his friends, family and the TV cameras dressed up like a small piece of icing that had chipped off the constipated wedding cake and you had all the celebrity excreta you could toss a toilet roll at.
Now if they can keep doing it while theyre dead, weve got ourselves a new show…’
‘WITH last weeks Mail on Sunday, in among the news and new and tales of shockingly imaginative ways to contract cancer, was a free DVD.
Buy one get one free
Not only do Mail readers know what a DVD is but, if the papers marketing types have got it right, they own tellies which can play widescreen films.
They also have a hankering to watch the movie Silkwood, a film with a tagline longer than the plot for Deuce Bigalow parts I and II: On November 13, 1974, Karen Silkwood, an employee of a nuclear facility, left to meet with a reporter from the New York Times. She never got there.
Mail on Sunday readers know what happens in the film, and thanks to the papers largesse, they now own a copy of the flick to lend to their friends, who were off in their timeshare apartments in Spain and Portugal when the film was given away.
And the DVD collection keeps on growing. The Sun is giving its readers the chance to own something theyll like so much theyll want to collect the token and pop along to Woolies for a FREE Morecambe and Wise DVD.
Of course, youve already seen everything the pair ever did. And though the DVD promises no directors cut, no German translation and no chance to see Eric agonising over how many times he should waggle his glasses without overdoing the joke, it is yours to keep.
And theres more. Why stop at Morecambe and Wise when you can have the rest of the Comedy Greats collection: The Two Ronnies, Spike Milligan, Tommy Cooper and Frankie Howerd?
All old. And, aside from Ronnie Corbett, the shorter half of the two Ronnies, all gone to join Bernie Winters in that great hall of popular light entertainment in the sky.
But why would you want them? The free DVD has replaced the bingo card, the prize drawer, the chance to win loadsa money. Its replaced the price-slashing. Its replaced the papers claims to have the best stories and the most insightful critics.
The new inducement to keep you buying a paper is to give you something for free.
Something you could download over the Internet for free – along with your daily news…’
‘ALEXIE Sayle used to do a routine where hed come on stage and scream Whooh! and hoot wildly. He was the American-style compere whod whip the audience into a frenzy.
|‘So when did you discover she liked sugar in her tea?’|
Only he was in somewhere less glamorous than Bridlington, and the people had only come to see the show because it was a) cheap, b) raining and c) with a average age in the low 70s, they were happy to be anywhere so long as they were breathing.
Jerry Springer should have been made to see this act before he transferred his freak show to Blighty.
British audiences do not respond well to goading. They will clap along as one in a never changing beat when invited to and wave little flags whenever Vera Lynn sings but anything more is showy and painful.
The only time a British TV crowd have ever gone truly potty was on the Price Is Right. Host Leslie Crowther would invite Linda from Bromsgrove to Come on down!, and upon hearing the words the lucky one would alter from being a retiring, reserved mum-of-two to an arm-waving loon desperate for her chance to guess the price of a blue china leopard.
So British people can do wild enthusiasm, although the look of on the faces of The Price Is Right contestants suggested the pre-show preparation involved lots of drinking and a brainwashing of the type given to Japanese kamikaze pilots.
But Springer, who thrives on his on-stage guests and audience members being nosier and brasher, believed he could make it happen with his charm alone. As he told the Radio Times when his British-based show was set to debut on our screens: ‘Your talk shows are like ours were 10 years ago. They plod along – it could be radio.
Springer – or Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! to give him his dues, was going to shake things up.
So Springer came to ITV, replacing Trisha Goddard, whod taken her TV mission to make women cry on air and seek therapy and counselling to Five. And the import was thrashing the local talent on the ratings chart with five viewers to every one of hers.
But since more would stare at the old BBC Test Card then tune into Five, these figures should not be give too much credence.
And the Springer show bears it out. The British audiences will not be seduced. Sure a huge woman appeared before us and took off her her top to show off her huge naked chest, but the hype that she wanted to go against her husbands wishes and sleep with men she met over the internet was soon rubbished. The pair were rendered almost mute by the cameras and when asked about her sensational plans she said shed never sleep with strangers.
Then there was the girl who didnt know whether to trust her useless pot-head lover. But Springer was discovering that this wasnt America and rather than kicking him to the kerb, as is the American way, or pumping him full of lead, as is another American way, shed have long hard think about marrying him.
The audience didnt jump and down like gibbons at feeding time, but stayed seated and looked sympathetic and bored.
Jerry talked to the crowd and they politely listened. He talked some more, and not wishing to interrupt his flow by shouting out, they listened some more. They paid attention in silence, listening attentively. It was as if they feared they were going to be tested on what hed said.
Springer looked a little exasperated. He said hed sit in the audience because one of his other guests, who had punched once her mother, was so terrifying.
Springer sat in the audience searching for something to say. And perhaps even wondering if he should bother to come on down…’
‘ENJOY the Ashes? The next time the contest’s on, in Australia 2006-7, youll have to pay Sky to watch, or else sit in a pub with a 24-hour licence, cable access and a telly high on a wall.
|Why can’t we get a dish on the roof like the Bothams?|
Of course, Skys coverage might not be all that bad. The broadcaster never misses a ball, and such is the hype and hoopla of sport on Sky we can expect more nodding heads in studios than ever before and perhaps a camera strapped to Andrew Flintoff’s head.
When cricket decamped to Channel 4, leaving the warm and cosy tea-socked environs of the BBC, we feared the death of the game.
There would be breaks for adverts, wickets would fall while that chap from Brushstrokes was extolling the vitues of washing his car in floor cleaner. Games would be won and lost as babies were bathed in hyper-sensitive lotions and mum made chips in a toaster.
In the drive to be edgy and inclusive, or at least look it, thered be female commentators and associated docu-shows on the role of gay men in cricket and whether or not WG Grace was really a feminist woman who refused to depilate.
But nothing bad happened. In fact, it was better than the BBC. The coverage on Channel 4 has been superb.
Simon Hughes, who spent the better part to the summer stuck in a dark truck dissecting the game with an editing suit and his knowledge, was genuinely informative.
That Channel 4 wanted to woo new viewers to the summer game was clear. Hughes would tell them what they were watching and what to look out for. This he did. And he also told many seasoned cricket watchers what was going on. Watching cricket is so much about off-the-ball goings on – passing round plates of salmon sandwiches and getting smashed. Many of us are familiar with the games terms, but have no idea what they look like in practice. Hughes plugged a gap.
And then there was Mark Nichols, the nice-haired anchor man. If ever there was a man to show us how stuffy Tony Lewis and the old stagers on the Beeb were, it was Nicholas.
Unlike so many of the BBCs old cricket gang, photogenic Nicholas looked liked he wasnt around when Queen Victoria was a young gel, and managed to be enthusiastic without gushing.
Richie Benaud, who may very well be Queen Victoria, seemed to have been given a new lease of life on Four. The Test at the Oval was his last commentary in this country, but at 75 he kept pace with Nicholas and continued on his own smooth way.
Of course, all this was helped by the cricket, which was enthralling. Cricket has won many new fans.
Problem is that fewer of them will be able to watch the Ashes next time round.’
‘CONGRATULATIONS to Sky Sports News on its commentary of Arsenals home game against Fulham.
|McCaffrey is super slow motion|
Weve received a barrage of letters on the subject of why it now takes two presenters to introduce a TV show. Havent we? Indeed we have.
And in last weeks reporting of the match from Highbury this process reached a dizzying new level of repetition when the main presenter was joined by not one but two co-presenters.
Skys Rob McCaffrey, a man who has been known to appear before the magic eye dressed in a pair of sleeve braces, thus giving him the appearance of a hard boiled hack who learnt journalism from watching episodes of Lou Grant and buys his kit at Journos R Us, was joined by former professional footballers Frank McLintock and Tony Cottee.
McLintock was there as the Arsenal expert. The Scotsman captained the London side during its first glorious Double year in 1971. Cottee was there because he can speak English as well as the next retired footballer.
Whats more, Cottee parts his hair on the left, which in the spirit of fair play and balance acted as a counterpoint to McLintocks right-sided parting.
The next hour and a half, with extra time for adverts and injuries, allowed viewers the chance to hear in turn from all three men.
The routine moments were heralded by McLintock, who would periodically announce his presence with an OOOHH!!!. To those of you who have never seen Sky Sports, this sound is the channels catchphrase, its gift to sports broadcasting. It succinctly captures the mood of the spectator in the stands and relays it live and unedited to the armchair fan who a) couldnt get to the game and b) likes to watch radio commentaries delivered in triplicate.
The cry of anguish necessitates that McCaffrey stops what hes doing (waiting for the OOOHHH!) and goes in a flash to the crier. Its great telly, although it could be made better if the pundit could raise his hands to his head or bury his face in them.
McLintock then told us what occurred, all the while not daring to take his eyes from his TV (known in Skyese as a monitor), lest he miss a goal and another chance to say OOOHHH!!!.
And then Cottee, watching the game on his own monitor, positioned to the left of McLintocks, so affording him a different angle on the match, told us what McLintock said, only in a London accent.
And it got even better whenever McLinotck had an actual goal to tell us about – which also meant that by the time wed heard from both pundits and McCaffrey, Sky had produced three goals for the price of one. All things considered, such a development is sure to make the sport more interesting to the casual viewer, goldfish and Manchester Uniteds new American owners.
At the final whistle, both sides celebrated a fine performance, even if McLintocks Arsenal had won 4-1 (or 12-3), and referee McCaffrey could look back on a clean game played out in fine spirit with no rows, swearing or handbags.
While viewers were left to wonder where things go from here. Perhaps eleven pundits on each side replicating the game proper? And if they can all talk at the same time, we will edge closer to what its like to be there at an actual match.
It will be like football…only better…’
‘MEN dont watch the telly any more. Not real men. Not men like Michael Buerk. Programmes are geared for women and feminised men who moisturise their smooth skin.
|‘And here is the news for those of you wearing Y-fronts’|
Thats not to say that men, those risk-takers and possesses of a single-mindedness that, as Buerk puts it, can be seen as dysfunctional, do not have a role to play on the magic box.
This week Buerk himself plays the role of man with aplomb. Hes on Five, appearing on a show called Dont Get Me Started. That title should give you a clue that this is chance to see a man in full grumpy old sod mode.
Five wants to get Buerk started and then encourage him by way of the Viagra of publicity to bang on at some length about his bugbear.
As the shows blurb promises: In this first programme Michael Buerk examines man’s role in today’s femocracy and asks whether there will come a time when men aren’t needed at all.
To save you the bother of watching and listening to a moaning middle-aged man in your living room especially those of you who live with the real thing let it be known that there will never be a time when men are not needed on the magic box.
Nature may dictate that men go the way of the dinosaurs, but on TV they will be vital in playing the role of grunting berks in TV documentaries like last weeks Transformed. In that show, useless husbands were invited to show the world what life was like before Angela Rippon showed us her legs and that ubiquitous blonde woman read the sports news.
Without men you couldnt have a show called Bring Your Husband To Heel, in which Annie Clayton shows us how you can train your husband like you can a dog.
Its the next staging post in the sexual revolution, in which men will be told when to lie down and then ordered to do what theyre told, on all fours and in a doggy style.
Thats on BBC2, a channel which used to show men herding sheep on One Man And His Dog and living comfortably with dandruff on Open University, and now broadcasts them trying to make an evening meal out of a tin of peaches and some polenta on Ready Steady Cook.
But there is hope for the so-called real man, the recidivist for whom TV died the moment the first run of The World At War ended and the batteries went in the remote control.
They can stick with Five after Buerk has been faded out, preferably still ranting, and stay tuned for a night of, in running order: golf, V8 cars, Indy cars, motor racing, boxing and football.
Happily, this scheduling means that from 00:45 onwards, a certain type of man can view his kind of programmes without interruption.
And in between shows, he can flick over to ITV and watch reruns of his appearance as an utter monosyllabic bastard on Trisha…’
‘WITH Big Brother approaching its screaming climax, TV types are looking around to replicate that housebound formula.
|Patron saint of husbands|
Filming people in a house is cheap TV. No need for expensive scenes, outside broadcasts and complex logistics. Just turn up and hit the record button on the cameras.
Add to this the lure of unpaid talent, and its easy to see why Big Brother has been such a hit the world over.
And why a show like Transformed: Hopeless Husbands ever gets made.
The ITV show centres on three husbands who are driving their wives crazy. Im exhausted, overworked, underpaid, pissed off, angry and irate, says one. And no its not because theres never anything decent on the telly; its because her man is a pig.
So the men, David, Kam and John, are despatched to a boot camp for reconditioning. There, they are whipped into shape by the ubiquitous Marine, a mentalist and a woman called Kate.
You half expected that as the boys lay their heads on their pillows, a tape was triggered and hypnopaediac messages like Let her watch Corrie, or else youll be sorry and A woman to cherish, likes burgers with relish were burnt into their subconscious.
It is all pretty unedifying stuff. And watching ex-squaddie John get in tune with his feminine side as he embraced aerobics, salsa dancing and stroked a horse called Mopsie fed our desire to watch a stupid man doing stupid things stupidly.
And here was the thing. While we wondered why the women bothered with their men at all and didnt use the time apart to find a new one, pack up and leave or change the locks, it was hard to work out why the men were there.
These men were so bad, so terrible, so awful that they had somehow agreed to appear before a nation to show just how idle and boneheaded they are.
And the answer was obvious. In entering the house they could get way from their wives, women who saw TV as a chance to sort their lives out, to give them a beginning, a middle and an end, with ad breaks to go to the toilet and credits.
The next move is to film them. And they can all get together in one house, itll keep the costs down. A womans refuge should do it. We havent had a reality TV show about that for too long…’
‘LIKE Kelly Brook with bigger hips and an apron, Nigella Lawson stares at the autocue.
|Making a hash|
Her dark eyes look into the TV camera, and without giving even the smallest hint of recognition that she is addressing an audience, that she is even aware of their existence, introduces the world to Krispy Kreme donuts and Stephen Fry.
Nigella the talk show, a mixture of TV, celebrity chatter and food, has been done before. Light Lunch, the lunchtime show presented by lightweight comics Mel and Sue, is a format that should not have been repeated.
Mel and Sure are comediennes (it says here), which at least enabled them to pass off their pisspoor performances as a routine. When they were crap, they were self-effacing; when they were even more crap, they were edgy and challenging; when they were crap with extra crap on the side they were daring and at the cutting edge of comedy.
Nigella is no comedienne. And certainly not two bad ones. Nigella, as the eponymous shows website says, is so much more. Well be talking everything from make-up and handbags to gadgets and gizmos, says the blurb. And Ill be opening up Dr Lawsons agony clinic to discuss real-life dilemmas, problems and difficult situations.
All this and pudding! Scrummy. Although Nigella is in danger of becoming a victim of her own success. The show has lost 40% of its audience in the space of a week four in ten have had their problems solved in just five days telly. At this rate, in little over a fortnight, only a few psychotic hard cases will be left watching.
Well done her. Although not too well done, because at the risk of being unhygienic Nigella was telling Ruby Wax that the best way to see how cooked a steak is it to put your finger on it.
Wax was enthralled. She likes meat going so far as kissing the raw steak. Someone had done their research.
It seems that Nigella doesnt invite celebs and cook random dishes for them but delivers to order.
This week, for instance, Nigella has lined up Ruby Wax, Neil Morrissey, Sally Lindsay, Tom Conti and Eamonn Holmes. To go with them, she making Cambodian Beef Salad, Pink Lemonade, Gingered and Minty Fruit Salad, Keema, Cola Cake, Beef Skewers with Horseradish Dip, Watermelon Daiquiris and Tiramisu.
Can you match the celeb with the dish? Take care not to get it wrong. Although if you do, dont worry – if it turns into a complete hash, itll be in keeping with the rest of the show ’
‘WHENEVER TV runs out of its own heroes, it takes them from other walks of life.
Its now hard to think of Dr Robert Winston, the expert on human fertilisation, doing anything without a camera crew filming him.
Im sorry, Mrs Hart, but you cant start your IVF programme until 2006, says the moustachioed Tom Selleck of the labour wards.
I can fit you in when Strictly Dancing with Pets series II ends and just before I take over as team captain on the new A Question of Ethics game show.
Gordon Ramsay may well be a terrific chef, but youre more likely to get him to cook you a meal if you avoid his expensive restaurants and agree to be sworn at on the telly.
But TV is a cruel master. Unless youre the perennial Del Boy or that good egg Delia Smith, youll soon be usurped by some new bright young thing and thereby reduced to appearing on reality TV shows or Today with Des and Mel, modern TVs equivalent of the little white dot.
What happens after TV has finished with these experts in childcare, cooking, cleaning, poo examining, or whatever it was that brought them to the attention of TV execs looking for talent, involves at least one of the following:
1. They can return to their pre-telly trades, and so run the risk of being perceived as has-beens – if theyre no longer on the telly it must because they arent any good, or theyre dead.
2. They can die.
3. They can retire to the provinces, enjoying fame on a village scale until Through The Keyhole comes knocking at the door of their barn conversion near Hastings.
4. They can hang on in there by agreeing to appear in adverts.
In short, you can be John Noakes, who swapped the Blue Peter ship for a yacht in Majorca, or you can be Phil Tufnell.
The advice is to go with Noakes. Ive always found it hard to dislike Tuffers, but recently hes encouraged me to give it my all.
And not trying in that way the laconic former England cricketer has of giving it a go, but really getting into what sportsman call the zone.
So there I was trying to get in touch with my inner layabout with a session in front of daytime TV when up pooped loveable old Tuffers.
Since winning Im a Celebrity, the man cricket fans know as The Cat, on account of his almost feline ability to avoid danger aka the ball has become a celeb.
Hes now more famous than when he spun the ball for Middlesex and England, and when duty demanded it inadvertently hit it with a bat; and surely earns more money.
There was Tuffers sitting on a desk in the manner of the office lothario, shmoozing the nearest secretary with his come-what-may charm and laissezfaire attitude to sexual harassment tribunals when his target began telling him how he can sort his finances out.
How so? A few laps of the after dinner speaking circuit, perhaps? Dash off a quick autobiography? A charity record – Cool For Cats, The Lion Sleeps Tonight or Jake the Peg, the latter featuring a video of Phil making a full three-stump wicket from his unique appendage?
Well, yes – the books been done and you can pay to hear Phil speak after youve eaten. And no the records not yet been released. Rachel was telling Phil how to arrange a loan.
Rachel, shes the secretary, explained to Phil how you can consolidate your finances, collect up the IOUs, HP purchase agreements and credit card bills and form them into an easily conquered single papier-mâché mountain of debt.
It was so simple; Tuffers grasped it in a flash. And now, leaning over to Rachel, he offered up the phrase that I will now recall whenever I see him or hear his name: Happy days.
Arthur Fonzie Fonzarelli eat your heart out. Theres a new middle-aged man on the block whipping the kids into shape, and this ones wearing a pair of Comfi-Slacks and a cheeky grin.
All thats left for Tuffers to do is to call the next firm that wants to secure his endorsement into Fonzs office and watch whatever credibility he had go down the pan…
‘HAND up who went to Live 8.
|Rock until your TV drops|
Put your hands down, you fools – and put that lighter out. I cant see you. What youre looking at is some just some kind of glorified TV.
Yes, thats right, it is a little like the one you watched Madonna perform on, although its not in the open air – unless youre from Cyprus and have positioned the TV set on the crazy paving, next to the outdoor fridge and last years Christmas tree.
And this TV is closer to a toilet. And when you reach for a smoke, no-one asks you if they can have one.
And you dont have to pretend to dance to U2, especially not in that knowing muso way of folding your arms, nodding your head and clapping in the middle of songs.
Of course, TV cannot yet give you the full effect, say you. Theres no way you can fully experience what it is to have been there when the revolution – the one televised by the BBC and supported by the Government – rocked the planet.
And you are right. You cant beat being there. Being at home is a poor substitute for being at the beating heart of global change.
But I at least tried to recapture the thrill – as did my television, which as soon as Madonna leapt onto the stage flashed a bright red.
Good set, thought I. Much of the world is in the red, so quite right that Madonna should paint the stage the livid colour of poverty, and Kabbalah string.
But what of the strange whining, hissing sound? Madonna? Perhaps. But what of the lines dancing across the screen?
The TV was dead, and that meant replacing it with an alternative. I needed to hurry, lest I lay myself open for accusations of not having done my bit to make poverty history.
The new telly happened to be 14 inches of white plastic. No NICAM. No FASTTEXT. No PLASMA. This was Live 8 on the televisual equivalent of scratchy vinyl.
Tonight I was gonna party like it was 1985.
Only this year, I was at home, and there was no need to call my mum to come and pick me up…
‘WHO ripped the last page from the Balamory story book?
If there is to be a cliffhanger when the hit childrens TV show comes to an end after 254 episodes, my money is on Edie McCredie, the Kristin Shepherd of the colourful Scottish village, being the guilty party.
When apprehended she might like to share with my eldest daughter what she did with the original Josie Jump, who was exchanged for a fresher, more coffee-skinned model with worse diction.
The search for Josie I could spawn an entire spin-off series. But for now, after four years of the hit childrens TV show, the producers have run out stories.
And congratulations to them for biting the bullet. If only EastEnders would do the same and stop repeating itself in evermore diluted form.
Look out for next weeks showing of the Beebs flagship soap when Ozcab 5 finally arrives back at base. We laugh, cry and nod knowingly as the old cast start phoning in for cabs.
Ozcab 5 then takes each of them the long way round Walford as they make their rheumy-eyed reminiscences from the back of a rusting Datsun Sunny.
EastEnders has long since passed its jump the shark moment the phrase used to pinpoint the time when a TV show goes downhill (from the Happy Days episode where Fonzie overcomes his fear of sharks by jumping over one while wearing water skis).
Balamory was not even close to hearing the Jaws theme music. Hey, it wasnt even in the water. If there was a fin sighted, Archie would have made it into a robot for painting rubber ducks yellow.
But in getting out early the show stands less of a chance of going stale.
Though not in the same league as Bagpuss, that Fawlty Towers of the childrens TV stable, a perennial favourite of which only thirteen episode were even made, Balamory will depart as a hit.
Not that it will ever really go away. Modern telly means that children will not see any new episodes after the current batch have been aired, but they will be able to watch the old ones on cable.
For some, that means countless chances to look for a shark jump moment. For others, its the opportunity to see if they can work out when Josie Jump had hers…’
‘WOMEN have come a long way on TV?
|Box play’s got more legs than Angela Rippon|
Things have moved on from when John Logie Baird’s landlady became the first woman to appear on British television.
Back then, it is unlikely the Scots inventor saw the grainy image and wondered how much better it would have looked had the woman been naked or sat in a cardboard box telling everyone present that she was wanking.
Baird may have been a pioneer in the history of the magic box, but when it came to thinking outside it, he was a rank amateur.
Thankfully, today we have people who have studied what TV means at college, and we dont just mean watching Pebble Mill and films of books they should have read. We mean real study. With real TVs.
And this means today we can get to see Big Brothers Sam.
Where Baird failed, todays TV execs have prospered. And now we have Sam sat in a cardboard box telling the world that she is playing with herself.
This was undoubtedly a great moment in TV, to rank right up there alongside Kenneth Tynans inaugural use of the F-word on TV in 1965.
And whos to say that Sams onanism wont lead to a sea-change in what we watch. Since Tynan brought the word onto TV screens, its been broadcast thousands of times.
It wont be too long before every show in need of looking now has a woman in a cardboard box masturbating.
Its not too hard to imagine EastEnders Jesse Wallace secreting herself into an old carton. You awight, Kat? Yeah. Triffic. Im pork scrathin. Nah, f-off!
But women on TV can be so much more. And it was nice to see that Sams masturbating can share space with Big Brothers Vanessa oohing and aahing over being given something as innocent as jam.
Here was the Womens Institute uncut. How long before the WI adds a new element to its shows?
The first prize in jam making goes to Mrs Hartle-Bosom, while Mrs Jones-Stubbs wins a complementary rosette for her embroidered wanking box. Well, done.
Jolly good show…’
‘MARYS reaction to being ranked the least popular member of the Big Brother house was contrary to what wed expected, and hoped for.
|Mary took it well|
Few expected the stroppy, self-styled witch to throw off her clothes and impale herself on the nearest crucifix, but surely some swearing and a few threats was on the cards.
But no. Here was Marys chance at being something other than one of the many forgotten faces on the role call of reality TV talent.
So what she was hugely unpopular – being liked has never been a vital ingredient to being famous. Just look at Tony Blair. Hitler. Freddie Starr. And, in any case, we all love the villains.
But she missed the chance. Mary wished the winner of the vote, the anodyne Craig, who strives for mediocrity and comes up woefully short, the very best of luck.
Well done, Craig, Mary said with her mouth and her eyes, which seemed to narrow, bulge and squint all at once as the strove to back up her generous mouth with heartfelt meaning.
Craig, for his part, scored a few points by smirking. He was happy. Mary was happy for him. But like Mary, he too missed a moment to really impress the public, and failed to jump in the air and scream In your face! at Mary.
Out of the house, Mary showed no signs of having put a hex on her former housemates, nor of being able to cast even the most rudimentary of spells over a braying audience whipped up by all the excitement that a chance to be on the telly can muster on a damp Friday night in Elstree.
At one point, the ringmaster, Davina McCall, did that thing where she lowers her voice to a yell and speaks as if she doesnt know her microphone is listening.
Davinas inside news from TV land was that Mary was shaking like a leaf.
We didnt get to hear the response from the production team, but at home our minds raced. Was Scary Mary about to explode, to hurl projectile vomit over Davina and the entire audience as her head span round faster and faster until it finally screamed Im really mad me and fell off her neck?
Sadly not. Mary was just nervous. When in conversation with Davina a trial every bit as unpleasant as anything Mary would have undergone at Salem Mary swivelled on her chair.
And then poof! – she was gone, leaving 12 men and women in her past, braying like fools and threatening to get it all out, warts and all…’
‘SCARY Mary, the white witch with the heavy black eyeliner, has yet to be strapped to a stool and thrown into the Big Brother pool to see if shes sinks or floats.
|”Is that an arse I see before me?”|
But she is staring into hidden depths, particularly those of the lads in the Big Brother house.
”I think people will watch this show and think the men just want tits and arse, but I think a lot of guys in the House, despite the bravado, are deeper,” says Mary. ”It’s not all tits and arse.
Shes right. Its not. There are legs and arse, bellies and arse and thigh and arse.
And if you stay tuned long enough, the lads, and the broadcasters, are hoping to see loads of full-frontal nudity and see the show achieve its ultimate aim: a live shag. Who says Marys not psychic?
Or superstitious, because if theres one thing anyone with an ounce of self-doubt knows (touch wood), its that you cant have thirteen for diner, even in room full of people who would have trouble staring at fingers and toes and counting past ten.
Its only week one, but still someone has to go. And from the outset, it looked like Mikosi would be that someone.
The cardiac nurse, a virgin, a woman who looks like James Bonds baddie Yaphet Kotto in a shag dress, was actively invited to destroy her nascent showbiz career at its inception.
Could she get the most nominations and so be exempt from eviction? The tension, like Mikosi, became unbearable, and on Wednesday we found out that four of her housemates wanted her out.
They also wanted Sam and Roberto out. But since they all received four nominations, and all came top of the bottom, so to speak, they were all immune from eviction.
Which meant that Mikosi got to choose who was up for the public vote, and she chose someone called Craig and dear Mary.
Who goes and who stays? Well, Mary already knows. And Big Brother would be well advised to let the water out of the pool…’
‘IT was on the face of it an act of rare genius. Take a dozen random celebrities to a remote island and leave them there.
|Anthea Turner, come on down|
The risk that they begin to breed and so create and populate their own Pitcairn Island-style society of inbred celebs was even factored into things.
The makers of Celebrity Love Island positively encourage the has-beens and never-weres on this sun-soaked idyll to get together.
We at home would be thrilled, and not a little turned on, working out which bits of which celebrity would survive the genetic melting pool and come out on top.
The show would run for years, and in a century from now the Fijian island chosen for the big experiment would be overrun by a tribe of beings blessed with Lady Isabella Herveys charisma, Rebecca Looss charm and Calum Bests raw talent.
The island could then be detonated by a Frenchman by the name of Dr Moreau checking out his countrys nuclear arsenal.
But already, after just a few days, we the people are switching off in our droves. Last Monday nights launch netted over five million viewers; by Wednesday night of the same week, the audience had fallen to just over three million.
We calculate that when the show comes to fruition in 2105, no-one will be watching. And well never know if former Hollyoaks actor Paul Danan did mange to thumb his nose at evolution and natural section by impregnating Jayne Middlemiss…’
‘WHAT do we look like when weve died? A junior doctor could tell us that we look like an O (mouth open) or a Q (mouth open, tongue lolled out).
|”Did you see that randy pig on Channel 5?”|
But what will we look like to the ones we leave behind? What image of us will be left indelibly engraved on their minds eye after weve gone?
And will this image be before or after Messers Nip n Tuck reshaped that snaggle tooth and tied the better half of your face behind ears?
No wonder TV trots out the mantra about only the good dying young. Think of your eternal image of James Dean: clean cut and all American. And then compare his outline to the shapeless mass of bone and cuticle that is the aged Elizabeth Taylor.
If Taylor had died young, fallen off a horse, say, shed be right now stuck on a million students walls and not sharing the limelight with a monkey in the trial of an alleged paedophile.
Now think of Geri Halliwell. Her career might be on life support, but the body is still alive; rather, make that the bits of it forever wrapped in the Union Flag.
Last night, Halliwells latest fall from the headlines saw her pop up and out on Channel 5.
For those of you who missed Theres Something About Geri, the nutshell is that Geri likes talking about Geri. She sees men as spineless disgusting dogs that can be replaced by a vibrating tube of easy-wipe plastic. And she loves attention.
For those of you that saw the show, we invite you to close your eyes and invoke an image of La Halliwell. Wed wager it is unaltered from the one you had of her before the show aired.
You know, the one of her busting out of a dress, hiding her talents, or lack of them, behind two fulsome bushels of breast and nipple.
Halliwell will always be so. The person may be breathing, but the celebrity was born and died the day she wore that dress…’
‘THROUGHOUT this uneventful and dull election campaign, we, like you, have been asking the key question that no wannabe leader wanted to face: wheres Kerry Katona?
Weve looked, but we have yet to see any sign of the nations favourite celebrity mum.
Thank God then for Melinda Messenger, who is keen to tell us how great Tony Blair is for hard-working families.
Heres the pneumatic model providing something of the double-whammy for Tony and his team.
Worthy as Melinda is, its a far cry from 1997, when the likes of musicians Peter Gabriel, Mick Hucknall, Damon Albarn and Noel Gallagher enthused about the new Labour project.
Gallagher still backs Tone, but its less because he wants him in and more because he wants the Conservatives out. If the Tories get in, says Gallagher on MTV, ”Phil Collins is threatening to come back and live here. And let’s face it, none of us want that.
Hes right. While Thatcher shaped the Eighties, Collins provided the soundtrack. (During the miners strike, police and pickets alike were whipped into a state of frenzy by Sussudio being played on loop over local Yorkshire radio.)
But the Oasis front mans voice is not seen as being as influential as it once was.
Indeed, pretty much the only celebrity weve seen on party political broadcasts this time round is Alan Sugar, the Gerald Ratner of the electronics game, telling us how to vote Labour.
While something of a prize scalp for Labour Sugar backed the Tories under Thatcher Sugars patronage hardly woos the youth vote.
Indeed, we are still trying to figure out what demographic Sugar was intended to appeal to. Multi-millionaires who made a mint under the Tories? Men with beards called Alan? Women with beards called Alan?
The election campaign was as bland and colourless as the protagonists. If only Katona had got the call. If only shed nailed her colours to a mast.
If only shed have dyed her hair…’
‘TO confront the threat posed by satellite TV, the BBC has hit upon a brilliant new format: why spend money on Rupert Murdochs crap when the BBC is more than capable of using your licence fee to make its own crap?
|”Get ready for the Off-Button Quick Step”|
Why pay for the same crap twice?
So the Beeb strives to show to that part of the population not already addicted to football and Star Trek that there is no need to bother subscribing to Sky and its ilk.
Why bother paying for Americas Next Top Model (Living TV), When Games Attack (Bravo) and Father of the Pride (Sky One) when the BBC can broadcast its own crap, like Just For Laughs, Strictly Dance Fever and Outtake?
Its public service broadcasting at its very best. And to ram the message home, you could watch that lot in a single sitting in front of BBC1 last Saturday night.
Those of you poor sods who watched Graham Nortons first show since signing an exclusive BBC deal last year saw what are routinely termed real people reprise the role of celebrities who danced in Strictly Come Dancing.
Yes, thats right, this new programme is a lot like the old Come Dancing, where dancers trained in Mambo, Salsa and Rumba used to set the ballrooms of Blackpool and Bournemouth alight in a blaze of teeth, tits and tangerine taffeta.
Only now theres a £50,000 grand prize! A phone vote! And Graham Norton!
Its like watching The Hitman and Her* while pumped up on sweet, milky tea and petits fours.
(* This was a late-nigh show where the Pete Waterman and Michaela Strachan would show up at some local nightspot to par-tee with the pissed-up locals.)
Which is, of course, challenging, edgy, sexy and all those other exciting things TV execs say their shows are. And, strictly speaking, utter crap to the rest of us…
Paul Sorene is the Anorak’
‘THOSE Americans dont get irony.
|Scene one: Robin wears a funny apron|
If they did, they would know that rather than being the dire, predictable, middle-of-the road rubbish they appear to be, British sitcoms are very funny and awfully clever.
British people are smart enough to realise that Two Pints Of Lager and a Packet of Crisps is funny because it is so deliberately unfunny and My Hero is a biting satire on Fathers 4 Justice.
Americans, in not laughing loud and long at such unbridled hilarity, are our comedic inferiors. They might have inherited our language, but the great British sense of humour was lost in the Gold Rush.
But while Americans try to raise a titter for such amateurish stuff as Seinfeld, Cheers and Everybody Loves Raymond, we as a nation are busting with original plot lines and very funny ideas.
So personable Irish comedian Dara OBriain presents The Last Laugh, a show that invites would-be John Sullivans to finish scripts begun by established comedy writers.
Are you as funny as Marks and Gran, the gag meisters who wrote Birds of A Feather, the show in which three stereotypes said what they were suppose to?
Can you put pen to paper in the manner of Trix Worrell, the man who gave us Porkpie, the subtlest comedy ever to grace our screens?
If so, this is your chance to add your name and your ideas to the pantheon of great British sitcoms.
We know its a hard if not impossible challenge to create something as eye-wateringly funny as Robins Nest, but give it your best shot.
And, who knows, if you fail to make Britain roar with laughter, you might yet make it in America, where comedic talent is horribly thin on the ground…
Paul Sorene is the Anorak’
‘DOES it make you a bad person if you dont watch Comic Relief on the BBC?
|Time to lance the boil?|
There is something about this fund-raising extravaganza that encourages a viewer to think that in watching it you are in some way helping those less fortunate than yourself.
And, of course you are youre helping some poor and hungry celebrity raise their profile.
Hey, folks, its all for charity. So what if whatshisface of whatsthatshow cant sing for toffee; hes having a good go at it and you should get behind him.
Who are you to judge, you cynical swine? What did you ever do for charity other than mock and give an old label-less tin to the Harvest Festival appeal when you were eight?
So, duly shamed you sit well back in your leatherette armchair, tune in and zone out to Comic Relief Does Fame Academy.
Its charity TV, only in this instance its the show thats in need of the handout.
Fame Academy was always the poor relation to the coruscating, well-fed Pop Idol.
It seems natural that it should be the wannabe-studded vehicle to help Britains TV-watchers empathise with the worlds downtrodden and abused.
The only thing its lacking is a ubiquitous presence, a figurehead to stand in for a despot hell-bent on making every room, person, car, actor, comedian and TV presenter in the land the same.
Someone like Saddam Hussein. Someone like Lenny Henry. Someone like Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen…’